Stuart Dredge writes…
Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) is the future, right? It’s Radio 2.0, providing crystal-clear access to loads of digital stations, some of which aren’t available on FM. It’s starting to get interactive features too, including proper EPGs, two-way connectivity, and the ability to pause live radio and record shows.
Hell, the only way it could be more futuristic would be if my DAB radio came with a built-in laser lightshow and a robot to twist the tuning knob. So WHY OH WHY do so many DAB radios look like something my grandparents would’ve been listening to several decades ago?
Okay, so I do understand the theory that vintage-styled DAB radios might help people feel a bit less scared about going digital. And it’s true that for some people, retro design signifies quality in a radio (i.e. it reminds them of the days when new consumer electronics products weren’t designed to go wrong within three years of purchase).
And yet. This is New Technology, people. Shouldn’t it look a bit more… whizzy? If I wanted my brand new digital radio to look as comfortable and homely as a pair of slippers, I’d buy a pair of slippers – and then cram the relevant electronics engineering degrees to learn how to fit a DAB chip and aerial to them, obviously. Retro DAB radios – especially the ones with wooden finishes – are dull, dull, dull.
Thankfully, some manufacturers do agree with me. TEAC’s R-X1 is a super-skinny wall-mounted DAB radio (pictured), while Revo’s Pico+ is a black chunk of modernity on a shelf. Or something. Even Roberts Radio has proved it doesn’t have to take the retro path every time, with its MP30.
It can be done, in other words. Come on, DAB manufacturers, fight the urge to go retro, and cook up some slinky 21st century designs for your radios. And if you can work in a robot somehow, so much the better.